BOLAJI Larry saved Al Hala from dropping to Bahrain's second division soccer league last night after scoring an extra-time goal for a 1-0 victory against Hidd in a one-off relegation match at the Al Ahli Club stadium in Mahooz.
Larry found the net two minutes into the added session after both teams played to a lacklustre goalless draw in 90 minutes of regular time.
Larry slotted the ball home after calmly collecting a pass from Hala captain Yousef Zuayed, and sending his shot well beyond the outstretched arms of the Hidd goalkeeper into the top-left corner of the net.
Hala ensured themselves the 10th and final slot in the 2009-'10 season of the Bahrain Premier League with last night's result.
Hidd were sent crashing down to the second division, and joins the eight other clubs who had already been relegated. They include Sitra, Bahrain Club, Budaiya, Galali, Al Ettehad, Al Ittifaq, Isa Town, and Al Tadamun.
Both teams had several chances in the opening hour to gain the lead, but none could provide the finishing touches and both goalkeepers were saved from blushes.
Hala, coached by veteran Bahraini tactician Ahmed Saleh Al Dakheel, were the favoured team heading into the clash, but could not make use of their full-strength squad.
Hidd, guided by former Hala player Khalifa Al Zayani, were playing without top scorer and national team striker Ali Sayed Isa, who was facing a one-match ban.
Burkina Faso forward Isa Nakima thought he had put Hidd ahead in the 84th minute, but his goal was disallowed as he received the ball in an off-side position. That paved the way for extra time.
Meanwhile, the league title will be decided tonight when defending champions Muharraq square off with leading challengers Al Ahli.
Both teams, along with Riffa, are still with chance to clinch the coveted league trophy.
Riffa currently top the table with 44 points, followed by both Muharraq and Ahli who have 42 apiece. Both teams must win tonight's tie if they are to take home the title. A draw will hand it to Riffa.
The game is scheduled to kick off at 5.45pm at the National Stadium in Riffa.
Muharraq are hoping to win the league for an unprecedented fourth successive year. They have been sharing the championship with Riffa since 1997. Riffa last won in 2005. Al Ahli's most recent title came in 1996.